Whole World Music, Sept 21, 2007 - text to "Only" (Feldman/Rilke)


Whole World Music of September 21, 2007 included a song entitled Only, performed by Joan La Barbara and written by American composer Morton Feldman. The composer based his song on a translation of a poem from Sonnets to Orpheus Part I, No. 23 (Feb. 1922) by Rainer Maria Rilke. Here is the translation from Rilke's original German text.

Only when flight shall soar
not for its own sake only
up into heaven’s lonely
silence, and be no more

merely the lightly profiling
proudly successful tool,
playmate of winds, beguiling
time there, careless and cool:

only when some pure Whither
outweighs the boyish insistence
on the achieved machine

will who has journeyed thither
be, in that fading distance,
all his flight has been.

        - Translation by J.B. Leishman



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